Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 20th, 2010

Made soup

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Made a very tasty soup by first making the stock:

4 chicken backs

Place backs skin side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast at 400ºF for an hour or until thoroughly browned. Discard fat in bottom of the pan.

Put into a 7-qt pot:

5 qts water
1 large carrot, cut into chunks
1 large onion, peeled and cut into chunks
heart of a bunch of celery, cut into chunks (including leaves)
1 bunch parsley, chopped [I didn’t have parsley, but here’s where I would add it]
2 tsp salt
several good grindings black pepper
as much crushed red pepper as you want—I went mild, with about 1/2 tsp (for 7 qt soup, total)
the 4 roasted chicken backs

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for an hour. Then use a large slotted spoon to remove everything solid from the stock. You want just the liquid. Add to the pot:

2-3 cups chopped green beans (could use a bag of frozen—I used fresh)
1 bunch kale, washed, drained, and chopped well
1 3-4 lb chicken, cut into serving pieces and skin removed
1-2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes (or equivalent chopped fresh tomatoes)
1/2 cup pearled barley
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons
2-4 Tbsp vinegar (I used sherry vinegar, but anything will do—you just want the acid)

After adding the above to the stock, add enough water to ensure everything’s covered. Don’t fill the pot—not yet. That will come after we add the final vegetables.

Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer covered for 45-60 min. I’ve read that the acids (tomatoes, lemon juice, vinegar) do not leach any significant calcium from the bones, and that may indeed be true. But the acids certainly melt the cartilage, making those proteins part of the soup stock.

Using tongs, remove chicken pieces to a platter. While those cool, add to the soup the following:

1/2 large red onion, chopped medium
4 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 large carrot, diced

Remove meat from bones, making sure it is in bite-size pieces. You may want to chop larger pieces. Discard the bones and add the meat back to the pot. Now add water to bring the level close to the top of the pot—as close as you feel comfortable.

Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Turn off heat, and let it sit until time to eat.

As I eat the soup down, I’ll add the following, one by one, to keep the soup interesting, simmering each time until the new ingredient is cooked (or warmed through):

chopped yellow squash or zucchini
chopped roasted butternut squash (Cut into 1″ cubes after removing seeds, brush with olive oil, and roast in 400ºF oven for 1 hour. Best to line baking sheet with foil. I don’t bother peeling these: roasting softens the skin.)
roasted pumpkin seed
chopped walnuts (not many: it’s a garnish, not an ingredient)

And so on: whatever you need to use up, basically—a coarsely chopped boiled egg wouldn’t be bad, for example.

Written by Leisureguy

20 October 2010 at 5:22 pm

Stall, stall, stall: How tightly the Establishment clings to DADT

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Pretty damned disgusting ruling, given that the DoJ was unable to produce any evidence whatsoever that ending the policy would in any way harm the military in their appeal, which is why the district judge denied the appeal. But: stall, stall, stall. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Truly, I do not see the point. And I don’t understand the ruling of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. AP reports in the NY Times:

A federal appeals court on Wednesday granted a government request to temporarily freeze a judge’s order telling the military to stop enforcing its ban on openly gay troops. [But WHY? Isn’t that one of the key questions: the reason for the ruling? The ruling makes absolutely no sense on the face of it. Indeed, I can’t see grounds for an appeal, to being with. – LG]

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals instructed the lawyers for the gay rights group that brought the lawsuit challenging the policy to file arguments by Monday. The 1993 "don’t ask, don’t tell" rule says gays may serve but only if they keep secret their sexual orientation.

Government lawyers sought to suspend U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’s ruling while appeals were pending, arguing that it would pose a major problem for the military. They said it could encourage service members to reveal their sexual orientation before the issue is fully decided.

President Barack Obama says he supports repeal of the policy, but only after careful review and an act of Congress.

A lawyer for the Log Cabin Republicans said the group was disappointed with the appeals court’s action.

"We view the decision as nothing more than a minor setback," Dan Woods said. "We didn’t come this far to quit now, and we expect that once the Ninth Circuit has received and considered full briefing on the government’s application for a stay, it will deny that application.

Written by Leisureguy

20 October 2010 at 4:58 pm

Obesity and its causes: More complicated than some think

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New Scientist reports:

Reward pathways in the brains of overweight people become less responsive as they gain weight. This causes them to eat more to get the same pleasure from their food, which in turn reduces the reward response still further.

Eric Stice, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues used fMRI brain scans to monitor 26 obese or overweight volunteers as they sipped either a tasty milkshake or a flavourless liquid resembling saliva. They compared the effect of both drinks on brain activity in the dorsal striatum, a key part of the brain’s reward circuitry. Six months later, they retested the volunteers.

Those who had gained weight since the first test also showed reduced activity in the dorsal striatum in response to the milkshake. In contrast, no change was seen in people who had lost or maintained weight (Journal of Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.2105-10.2010).

The result suggests that overeating may push people onto a slippery slope akin to a drug addict’s craving for ever-larger doses. "People are having to eat more and more to chase the high," says Stice. It remains to be seen whether losing weight can reverse the cycle and restore normal functioning of the reward pathway.

Written by Leisureguy

20 October 2010 at 3:45 pm

Iran v. US: An interesting contrast

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Just to be clear: I don’t think Iran is a great society. But this is interesting. Greenwald:

Here is the latest Outrage of Evil from the Persian Hitlers:

Iran’s intelligence minister confirmed on Wednesday that two U.S. citizens detained for more than a year will face trial, news reports said.

“The two Americans will be tried,” Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency. “We will hand any evidence we have to the judiciary.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters on Tuesday that she had heard Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal would be tried on November 6 but she still hoped they would be released.

It’s high time that we teach those Iranians about democracy and freedom.  All civilized people know that this is how a Free and Democratic Nation treats foreign detainees:

The Obama administration has decided to continue to imprison without trials nearly 50 detainees at the Guantánamo Bay military prison in Cuba because a high-level task force has concluded that they are too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release, an administration official said on Thursday.

It’s hard to put into words how paranoid and conspiratorial those Iranians must be, thinking that Americans who covertly entered their country without authorization were there for purposes other than accidental tourism.  What ever could have put such a bizarre idea into their heads?

U.S. ‘secret war’ expands globally as Special Operations forces take larger role

Beneath its commitment to soft-spoken diplomacy and beyond the combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama administration has significantly expanded a largely secret U.S. war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups, according to senior military and administration officials.

Special Operations forces have grown both in number and budget, and are deployed in 75 countries, compared with about 60 at the beginning of last year. . . .

One advantage of using “secret” forces for such missions is that they rarely discuss their operations in public. For a Democratic president such as Obama, who is criticized from either side of the political spectrum for too much or too little aggression, the unacknowledged CIA drone attacks in Pakistan, along with unilateral U.S. raids in Somalia and joint operations in Yemen, provide politically useful tools.

Obama, one senior military official said, has allowed “things that the previous administration did not.”

Just because we’re covertly infiltrating and interfering in virtually every Muslim country on the planet — and just because we’re actively aiding rebel groups inside their specific country — is no reason to suspect Americans who illegally enter their country of espionage.  That just goes without saying, and Americans would never harbor such untoward suspicions about Iranians caught illegally entering the United States.

Of course, none of this is new.  We previously witnessed the vast disparity in Freedom Values between the U.S. and Iran when the Persian Tyrants sparked a worldwide orgy of condemnation by holding an American journalist for a couple of months (after she was convicted in court of espionage) before an Iranian appellate tribunal ordered her release, in contrast to the way that the Leaders of the Free World imprisoned an Al Jazeera cameraman in Guantanamo without charges of any kind before swiftly releasing him after a mere seven years (along with numerous other incidents of due-process-free, years-long imprisonments of journalists in Iraq).  It goes without saying that the Iranian justice system is a travesty and a farce, but at least they go through the pretense of due process before putting people in cages.

* * * * *

Speaking of our need to teach Iran and other tyrannical nations about the values of Freedom and Democracy, note the following items:

(1) Electronic Frontier Foundation reports:

Last Friday, in a brief filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,the Obama Administration continued the government’s half-decade-long battle to ensure that no judge ever rules on the legality of the National Security Agency’s warrantless dragnet surveillance program, a program first revealed in 2005 by the New York Times and detailed by technical documents provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein. . . . The government dedicates most of its brief to arguing the same thing it has been arguing for the past five years in every other warrantless wiretapping case: that any attempt by the courts to judge the legality of the alleged surveillance would violate the state secrets privilege and harm national security.

I spent this morning reviewing what Democrats and progressives said and wrote back in the day each time the Bush DOJ invoked the “state secrets” privilege in order to shield their illegal NSA surveillance program from judicial review.  I’ll probably write about this in the near future, but the condemnation was quite vehement, without very many rhetorical limits.  It seemed to be a consensus that such behavior was the nadir of lawlessness and removal of political leaders from any semblance of the rule of law.

(2) Harper‘s Scott Horton examines the evidence of the secret prison the Obama administration is apparently maintaining in Afghanistan and the serious abuse that takes place there.

(3) Keith Olbermann and Jonathan Turley had quite a good discussion on Monday night of the Obama DOJ’s efforts to shield all Bush officials from liability for their War on Terror abuses, their success in persuading the Supreme Court to review their immunity arguments, and what this likely means for democratic accountability and the rule of law.  It’s well worth watching:

[Astonishing video. See it here. Truly: do not miss this one. – LG]

Anyway, about Iran . . . .

UPDATE:  Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny are two young, very smart political commentators who host an engaging radio show entitled “Citizen Radio,” which can be heard here.  I was interviewed by them last week about a wide variety of topics (including Obama’s civil liberties record, the Drug War, support for third parties, America’s collapsing imperial status, and dogs).  The full 25-minute interview can be heard here (it begins at roughly the 28:00 minute mark of the episode), and an 9-minute edited video version is below.  Their guest this week is Noam Chomsky, and, for those interested, that discussion can be heard here.

Written by Leisureguy

20 October 2010 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Government, Law

A foretaste of the kind of country we might become

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Besides the specific example (from an election campaign) given below, consider also how the US preferentially supports right-wing dictatorships and brings down governments (e.g., Chile, Haiti) that it considers on the Left, even when those governments are put in place by a popular and legal election. From that, I assume that there is a large and powerful group within the government (specifically, within the State Department, the CIA, and the military) that actually like right-wing dictatorships and believe that they are worthy of support (and emulation).

Here’s some more handwriting on the wall:

One of the more disturbing election incidents took place in Alaska on Sunday night, when private "guards" working for GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller forcibly detained and handcuffed a journalist as he tried to ask the candidate questions which he did not want to answer.  This photograph shows the journalist, Alaska Dispatch’s Tony Hopfinger, handcuffed in a chair, surrounded by Miller’s guards.  This story became much worse yesterday when video was released that was taken by a reporter from the Anchorage Daily News showing that these guards thuggishly threatened at least two other reporters, from ADN, with physical detention as they tried to find out what happened, demanded that they leave or else "be handcuffed," and physically blocked them from filming the incident all while threatening to physically remove them from the event, which was advertised to the public (see video below).

But revelations today have made the story much, much worse still.  ADN now reports that not only was Joe Miller’s excuse for why he had hired private guards a lie, but two of the guards who handcuffed the journalist and threatened others are active-duty soldiers in the U.S. military:

Was Joe Miller required to bring a security detail to his town hall meeting Sunday at Central Middle School?

That’s what Miller, the Republican Senate candidate, told two national cable news networks Monday in the wake of the arrest by his security squad of an online journalist at his public event.

But the school district said there was no such requirement made of Miller . . . "We do not require users to hire security," she said. . . .

Meanwhile, the Army says that two of the guards who assisted in the arrest of the journalist and who tried to prevent two other reporters from filming the detention were active-duty soldiers moonlighting for Miller’s security contractor, the Drop Zone, a Spenard surplus store and protection service.

The soldiers, Spc. Tyler Ellingboe, 22, and Sgt. Alexander Valdez, 31, are assigned to the 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade at Fort Richardson. Maj. Bill Coppernoll, the public affairs officer for the Army in Alaska, said the two soldiers did not have permission from their current chain of command to work for the Drop Zone, but the Army was still researching whether previous company or brigade commanders authorized their employment.

If it’s not completely intolerable to have active-duty soldiers handcuffing American journalists on U.S. soil while acting as private "guards" for Senate candidates, what would be?  This is the sort of thing that the U.S. State Department would readily condemn if it happened in Egypt or Iran or Venezuela or Cuba:  active-duty soldiers detaining journalists while they’re paid by politician candidates?  The fact that Joe Miller has been defending the conduct of his private guards in handcuffing a journalist and threatening others with handcuffs should be disqualifying by itself.  That reveals a deeply disturbed authoritarian mind.  But the fact that these guards are active-duty U.S. soldiers makes this entire incident far more disturbing.  Shouldn’t American journalists of every stripe be vehemently protesting this incident?

UPDATEDoD Directive 1344.10 — governing "Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces on Active Duty" — provides: "A member on AD [active duty] shall not: … [p]articipate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions."  The legality is the least of the concerns here.  That directive exists because it’s dangerous and undemocratic to have active-duty soldiers taking an active role in partisan campaigns; having them handcuff journalists on behalf of candidates is so far over that line that it’s hard to believe it happened.  The real issue, though, is Joe Miller: the fact that he did this and then emphatically defended it reveals the deep authoritarianism of many of these "small-government, pro-Constitution" right-wing candidates.  Any American of minimal decency should be repelled by this incident.

[Incredible video in the original column at this point. I can’t embed, but you really should see this. – LG]

UPDATE II:  The more recent version of the relevant DoD Directive is here.  It is essentially the same as the one quoted in the prior update, with slight differences, and provides, among other things:  "A member of the Armed Forces on active duty shall not: . . . [p]erform clerical or other duties for a partisan political committee or candidate during a campaign."

Speaking of the deep authoritarianism of many of these "small-government, pro-Constitution" right-wing candidates, Digby notes this video of what took place at a rally in a public park for GOP tea party Congressional nominee Allen West in South Florida, when a 23-year-old worker for West’s opponent — Democratic Rep. Ron Klein — showed up with a video camera:

It’s not nearly as bad as the Miller incident in Alaska, but it’s the same anti-democratic mindset driving it.

Written by Leisureguy

20 October 2010 at 3:01 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Warming is accelerating global water cycle

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More problems arising as global warming continues with no significant action by any government, especially not the US. Janet Raloff reports for Science News:

Fresh water evaporates from the oceans, rains out over land and then runs back into the seas. A new study finds evidence that global warming has been speeding up this hydrological cycle recently, a change that could lead to more violent storms. It could also alter where precipitation falls — drying temperate areas, those places where most people now live.

Among the new study’s more dramatic calculations: River runoff into the seas has been increasing by some 540 cubic kilometers per year, or about 1.5 percent annually over the period analyzed (1994 to 2006). While that may not sound like much, “over 20 or 30 years it would really add up,” notes study author James S. Famiglietti, a hydrologist at the University of California, Irvine.

Global annual precipitation also appears to be on the rise, but at only half the increase seen in river runoff. If prolonged, this differential would suggest that major terrestrial stores of water — such as ground aquifers and glaciers — are drying up (a trend that other studies have been chronicling). This would also be expected to eventually raise sea levels and generally dry temperate regions that depend on rivers to slake their thirsts.

Famiglietti and his colleagues reported their findings October 4, early online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists have been predicting climate change would intensify the global water cycle, Famiglietti says — “increasing the amount of precipitation and evaporation, globally, and stream flows from the continents.”

Computer models indicated that if this happened, there should also be “a redistribution of precipitation,” he adds. Driven by changes in atmospheric circulation patterns, rains and snowfall would increasingly ignore temperate regions in favor of zones nearer to the poles and tropics. Another feature of an intensifying water cycle: Storm intensity would also tend to increase.

With climate warming, long-frozen stores of water — glaciers and permafrost — could be gushing into the seas from regions largely out of humanity’s view. So fitting their contribution into the global tally would offer important clues to changes in water cycling, Famiglietti explains. But until now, calculating this has proven difficult.

In theory, one of the easiest ways to gauge ice and permafrost melting would be to tally stream flows around the world. Except that stream monitoring programs — never ubiquitous — have been diminishing in recent decades. So a large share of the water flowing over land escapes any accounting.

To estimate global stream flows . . .

Continue reading.

I don’t believe any action will be undertaken until it is way, way too late. Thank the GOP for the US paralysis.

Written by Leisureguy

20 October 2010 at 1:29 pm

Nice date

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Say it aloud: 10/20/2010. Even better European style: 20/10/2010.

Written by Leisureguy

20 October 2010 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Daily life

This should wake you up

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That’s a 7-string guitar.

Written by Leisureguy

20 October 2010 at 10:42 am

Posted in Jazz, Video

Back home

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This morning I weighed at break of day on my own scales. The day I left I was at 220.2 lbs. This morning: 218.0 lbs, a new low in my current program. That’s after a couple of expansive meals on the road but also quite a bit of "regular" eating—that is, regular eating nowadays: few seconds, nothing between meals or after dinner, modest portions, etc. I think this is working. BMI is 29.5.

My cold is better. My right ear is plugged, but it will work loose in time. Tons of mail, including around 1,000 emails.

Fortunately, I awakened at 3:30 a.m., ready to go. ("That’s 6:30 a.m.," my body insisted, still on Eastern time.) I shall take a nap.

Megs has been glad to see me, but careful not to get maudlin about it.

Written by Leisureguy

20 October 2010 at 9:56 am

Posted in Daily life

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”

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The Frank shaving brushes (I have 3 now) look great, but for some reason I cannot get the lather to persist on them. For me, it’s almost as if the brushes have been dipped in a lather-killing solution. I gave up on this one when, after loading it with lots of soap, I had no lather for the second pass. Life’s too short.

I did finish the shave (using the smallest Frank brush, which seems to do the best job), and it was a good shave. I know the soap is not at fault—I used the Prairie Creations shave stick with great success on the trip (until I forgot it and left it at TYD’s). Just to be sure, I’ll use the same soap tomorrow with the Rooney Style 2. The soap has a fine fragrance.

And my razor is the newly gold-plated Pils stainless. Pils does make a gold-plated razor, but it’s gold-plated brass. I decided to gold plate this one after getting rust spots under the cap. The gold plating will put paid to that. (I’ve heard that Pils has done a recall—a bad batch of stainless—but I know nothing more of that. Contact your dealer if you have a stainless Pils that’s shown rust spots.) I think it turned out extremely handsome, and with a new Swedish Gillette blade it gave a fine shave.

A splash of TOBS Mr. Taylor’s aftershave, and I’m good for the day.

Written by Leisureguy

20 October 2010 at 9:53 am

Posted in Shaving

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